Nyck de Vries on ‘dream’ debut after nerves meant he ‘struggled to have breakfast’

Henry Valantine
Nyck de Vries in the Williams garage. Italy September 2022.

Williams stand-in driver Nyck de Vries in the team's garage. Monza September 2022.

Nyck de Vries was understandably beaming after taking his Williams into the points on his Formula 1 race debut at Monza.

The Dutch driver was drafted in at the last minute to replace Alex Albon at Williams for the Italian Grand Prix, with the team’s regular driver currently recovering from appendicitis.

But despite only having an FP3 session to get used to the car, having completed FP1 at Monza in an Aston Martin, he performed well on Saturday to outqualify Nicholas Latifi in the sister car.

Multiple grid penalties took effect and promoted De Vries to eighth on the grid, and he held on to a points-paying position throughout.

De Vries was defending hard from Zhou Guanyu to hold on to 10th position heading into the closing stages, but the late Safety Car prompted most drivers to make pit-stops thinking the racing would get back under way.

De Vries and Williams opted to stay out and he was then promoted to P9 as a result, taking points on his debut in motorsport’s top tier.

He was understandably nervous to get going on Sunday, but the former Formula 2 and Formula E champion was thrilled with how his afternoon had panned out.

“Like a dream,” De Vries told Sky F1 of his first race outing in Formula 1. “Honestly, I didn’t dare to dream [of] such a debut.

“It’s been a very hectic past 24 hours, didn’t really have much time to think, had a very bad sleep. It went from excitement into nerves and many different thoughts went through my head.

“And this morning I was struggling to have breakfast, but actually the closer we were getting to the race the more excited I got.

“Then and the whole kind of show and the driver parade and excitement just got me going and I’m very thankful for the opportunity and also how we grabbed it with both hands as a team.”

He had been called to the stewards for “driving erratically” during the race, but was given a reprimand for doing so – keeping hold of his points with his stand-in status proving to be a mitigating factor in the stewards’ judgement.

The 27-year-old also won the fan-voted Driver of the Day award for his endeavours and despite being the beneficiary of the multitude of penalties applied after qualifying, he spoke of his pride at becoming a Formula 1 points-scorer at the first attempt.

“I acknowledge we had a little bit of luck with some of the grid penalties and also some of the retirements,” he said. “But sometimes you’ve got to take those and we definitely capitalised on our opportunity and we scored points, and nobody can take those away from us and I’m just proud and happy we took this opportunity.

“And whatever happens in the future, nobody can take this away from us.”